PHARMACY

FDA approves generic version of Merck’s Elestat ophthalmic solution

BY Alaric DeArment

ALLEGAN, Mich. — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a drug made by Perrigo and PharmaForce/Luitpold Pharmaceuticals for treating eye allergies, Perrigo said.

The FDA approved epinastine hydrochloride ophthalmic solution in the 0.05% strength. The drug is a generic version of Merck’s Elestat, used to treat ocular itching related to allergic conjunctivitis.

Annual sales for the branded version before the appearance of generics on the market were $30 million, according to Wolters Kluwer.


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PHARMACY

NCPA CEO issues statement on Express Scripts-Medco merger at pharmacy coalition press conference

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON — At a press conference organized by the Preserve Community Pharmacy Access NOW! coalition at the Capitol on Thursday morning, the National Community Pharmacists Association’s CEO Douglas Hoey issued a statement regarding the proposed merger of pharmacy benefit managers Express Scripts and Medco Health Solutions, saying the deal could mean "more wasteful mail-order spending and higher price spikes for specialty drugs."

"Quite simply, the windfall profits of major PBMs have soared and everyone else has been paying the price," Hoey said. "The marriage of Express Scripts and Medco would give one corporation control of nearly 60% of the mail-order pharmacy market and 52% of the specialty pharmacy market. It could mean more wasteful mail-order spending and higher price spikes for specialty drugs. The already limited pharmacy management options for the largest health plans, including the federal government, will grow further captive to the major PBMs.

"Currently 42 out of the Fortune 50 largest U.S. employers use the ‘Big Three’ — Express Scripts, Medco or CVS Caremark. It is safe to say that if the merger is green-lighted, the remaining two companies would face little, if any, resistance to raising costs, reducing choice and otherwise putting their own interests ahead of those of employers, patients and others," Hoey said.

Hoey also added that the "unchecked, virtually unregulated growth" among PBMs should prompt Congress to pass legislation — particularly, the Pharmacy Competition and Consumer Choice Act of 2011 (S. 1058/ H.R. 1971), and the Preserving Our Hometown Independent Pharmacies Act (H.R. 1946) — to boost patients’ choice of pharmacy.

On hand at the PCPA NOW! press conference were Reps. Joe Courtney, D-Conn.; Thomas Marino, R-Pa.; and Eva Clayton (retired), who also serves as PCPA NOW! chairwoman; Dennis Archer, PCPAN chief legal counsel; and Mike Brandt, owner of Globe Drug and Medical Equipment.


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BMS to present abstracts from Orencia studies at American College of Rheumatology meeting

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Drug maker Bristol-Myers Squibb will present 20 study abstracts at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting in Chicago, the company said Thursday.

Bristol said that of those, 18 contain new data from studies of Orencia (abatacept) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis or lupus nephritis.

"The results presented at the American College of Rheumatology meeting reinforce Bristol-Myers Squibb’s commitment to expanding our understanding of the efficacy and safety of Orencia and continuing to address the unmet needs of adult patients with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis," Bristol SVP global development and medical affairs Brian Daniels said.


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